Sunday, 17 February 2013

HMS Tireless - leak in reactor compartment

Daily Express reports

"Launched in 1984 “HMS Tired”, as she has been dubbed, was due to be decommissioned from the fleet this year but her service was extended for another four years due to the delay in the rollout of the new Astute class submarines

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “HMS Tireless returned to Devonport Naval Base last week for repair following a small coolant leak that was contained within the sealed reactor compartment. There is no risk to the public, the environment or the crew.” 

Whilst this may be true, the leak may be indicative of an ageing boat reaching the end of its life. 

The decision to extend its service calls in to question to what extent the granting of the extension of service is at the price of an increased risk to safety.

This incident shows that the problems encountered with commissioning the Astute submarines are having a knock on effect on nuclear safety of the older submarines that were due to have been decommissioned.

This blog has already reported the MODs failure to identify the root causes of the problems with HMS Astute.  It will interesting to see if the MOD publishes any information about the causes of the leak of coolant within the reactor compartment of HMS Tireless.

It is worth considering to what extent other submarines of the same class and age as HMS Tireless might now be prone to the same sort of leak or indeed a more serious leak that might endanger the submarine.

It should be remembered that this is not the first time HMS Tireless has suffered collant leaks, in May 2000, Tireless developed a serious leak in the nuclear reactor primary cooling circuit. The nuclear propulsion system was shut down and using backup diesel power Tireless made way to Gibraltar. The damage was found to be more extensive than first thought, and the boat remained at Gibraltar, creating diplomatic tensions between Spain and Britain, until she left on 7 May 2001, nearly a year later following extensive repairs During that year, all Trafalgar-class submarines were inspected for similar problems

More recent report

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